After I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019, and following two operations to remove the offending growths, I had quite a long time off work which involved periods undergoing first chemotherapy, and then radiotherapy. The hospital was very supportive during this and has continued to be so, allowing me (as a person who is considered 'clinically vulnerable' due to the cancer treatment), to shield during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a consequence, I feel as if I should give something back.

I have chosen Harefield Hospital's 'Healing Garden Appeal' because firstly, gardening is a hobby that is very close to my heart but secondly, it is increasingly apparent that nature aids in recovery and can improve our mental and physical wellbeing. Gardens have been used in the healing process since ancient Greece, with the first medical practice at the temple and gardens at Epidavros. But it was not until 1984 that psychologist Roger Ulrich first documented the evidence for the healing effect of gardens or outdoor environments in the journal “Science”. Since then, there has been growing evidence that natural sunlight aids recovery for critical-care patients. Of course, gardens not only benefit patients but their families and hospital staff as well.

The garden has been designed by Nicki Jackson and proceeds from the fundraising will go towards the maintenance and upkeep of this important hospital resource.

The challenge I will be taking on -

Daniela Spasova